Outgoing US president Barack Obama made strengthening relations with India a “genuine priority” and sought ways to effectively work together to fight extremism and enhance economic ties, the White House has said.
“President Obama did make strengthening our ties with India a genuine priority,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday (17) at his last news conference as the presidential spokesman.
“The President believed that it served our economic interest and national security interest, and that would certainly explain the frequent visits of both Indian prime ministers during president Obama’s tenure in office to the White House and it would explain Obama’s visits to India as well,” he said.
Obama, during his eight years in office, not only became the first US president to visit India twice, but also hosted Indian leaders in the Oval Office a record number of times, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh thrice and his successor Narendra Modi twice in 2015 and 2016.
Obama met Modi as many as eight times since their first meeting at the White House in September 2014.
“Each of those visits was oriented around a discussion about how to deepen our economic ties in a way that has positive benefits for workers in other countries, but also to look for ways that we can work more effectively together to fight extremism and to enhance the security of citizens of both our countries,” Earnest said.
“President Obama certainly believes that we have made important progress in deepening and strengthening the relationship between two of the world’s largest democracies and is hopeful that progress will continue into the next administration,” he said.